(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Memories - we spend our whole lives making them, but imagine your brain being wiped of all your precious moments. For 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer's, memory loss is a part of life. Researchers now link the condition to your walking pattern.
Problems walking, including slow gait and a short stride, are associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline. Researchers measured the stride length, cadence and velocity of more than 1,341 participants through a computerized gait instrument at two or more visits roughly 15 months apart. It was found that participants with lower cadence, velocity and length of stride experienced significantly larger declines in global cognition, memory and executive function.
"These results support a possible role of gait changes as an early predictor of cognitive impairment," Rodolfo Savica, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurologist was quoted saying.
The National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association published new guidelines in April for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. They separate the progression of Alzheimer's into three stages: (1) pre-clinical (or pre-symptomatic) Alzheimer's disease, (2) mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer's disease, and (3) Alzheimer's disease dementia.
The validity of Stage 2 MCI was questioned. Researchers say this stage was designed to differentiate patients with early Alzheimer's disease from those with other cognitive issues. Researchers studied 156 people who met the criteria for MCI. Of those, 67 percent had evidence of early Alzheimer's disease.
"These results indicate that the new diagnostic criteria for MCI due to Alzheimer's works quite well," Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D, a Mayo Clinic neurologist was quoted saying.
"Ultimately, though, the validity of these new criteria will be determined by the long-term outcome of these subjects," Dr. Petersen continued.
Dr. Petersen's current research focuses on the study of normal aging, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. He was appointed chair of the Advisory Council on Research, Care and Services for the National Alzheimer's Project Act by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Source: The Alzheimer's Association International Conference, July 2012